Word from the Middle Kingdom
Wen Jiaboa is the Premier of China, and a geologist. Unlike the geologists of our acquaintance, Jiaboa knows which end is up. Down deNile the wingnuts are always asking for China to go first. Science recently published an interview with Wen which has a great deal of interesting information about how China responded to the Sichuan earthquake, the tainted milk scandal and more. Of interest to readers of this blog is his (and thus China's) position on global climate change and energy
China is a main energy consumer and, therefore, is also a big greenhouse gas emitter. We must use energy resources rationally and must conserve. This needs us to adjust our economic structure, transform the mode of development, to make economic development more dependent on progress of science and technology and the quality of the work force.There was a confirming editorial statement in the next issue
We need to take strong measures, including economic, legal, and administrative measures when necessary, to restrict high energy consuming and heavily polluting enterprises and encourage the development of energy conserving and environmentally friendly enterprises.
Now every year, China produces about 180 million tons of crude oil and imports about 170 million tons. China's coal production exceeds 2.5 billion tons a year. This kind of huge consumption of energy, especially nonrenewable fossil fuel, will not be sustainable.
We have established a goal that our GDP [gross domestic product] growth every year must be accompanied by a 4% decrease in energy consumption and a 2% reduction in COD [chemical oxygen demand] and sulfur dioxide emissions every year. We will also adopt various measures to reduce the use of oil and coal in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, including energy-conserving technologies and carbon-capture technologies.
We have only been industrializing for several decades, while developed countries have been on this road for over 200 years. But we will now begin to shoulder our due responsibilities, namely, the common but differentiated responsibilities set forth in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
I firmly believe that science is the ultimate revolution. At a time when the current global financial turmoil is dealing a heavy blow to the world economy, it has become all the more important to rely on scientific and technological progress to promote growth in the real economy. Economic and social development must rely on science and technology, and science and technology must serve economic and social development. We will rely on science and technology to promote economic restructuring, transform development patterns, safeguard food and energy security, and address global climate change. We are confident that China will reap a rich harvest in science and technology and that this will have positive and far-reaching effects on human civilization and the well-being of humankind.